G'day Rogainers,

NSW Rogaining eNewsletter, 11th July 2020

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Compiled by Tristan White

Rogaines Return to the back half of 2020!

With adult sporting events officially permitted as of 1 July, the committee is delighted to announce that rogaining is set to return to the calendar. The scheduled dates are the same as originally planned, however many of the durations and locations have changed. The events for the remainder of 2020 include:

  • Sat 1 Aug: 5/3hr Night Rogaine, Woronora & Loftus
  • Weekend 5-6 Sept: 24/8hr NSW Champs, Gundabooka NP, near Bourke (as originally planned)
  • Sat 18 Oct: 12/6hr Lake Macquarie, Watagans – the 6hr event will include the Paddy Pallin titles
  • Sat 21 Nov: 6hr Socialgaine, Willoughby, using the Metrogaine course that was planned for March

Check the calendar on the website here for updates.

President Trevor Gollan and Safety Officer Michael Watts are pulling together a plan to ensure that our rogaines are held in a fashion that minimises risks of spreading the disease. There will have to be changes to our processes and experiences, which will unfortunately reduce the sociability (aka time spent) at the hash house.

Thanks to Mike Hotchkis for developing the Navlight mount, which will be trialled at the next event. This will allow you to register your visit at a control flag without touching anything

“Woronora Pipe Dreams” 5/3/3-hr Night Rogaine, Sat 1 Aug

Event entries here:

Let the Shire Beware! In a mere four weeks, dozens of flags will be scattered across Heathcote NP and surrounds and bewildered residents will watch dozens of torchlights rushing around looking for them for the first event back on NSWRA’s “pipeline” of works at the start of August.

Nicole Mealing and Andrew “Brooner” Brown are working hard to set an event that is challenging and fun for all levels of night rogaining experience in three event options:

  • 5hr night rogaine (17:00 start)
  • 3hr night rogaine (17:30 start)
  • 3hr non-competitive day-night rogaine (15:30 start)

The most iconic feature of the event area is the Woronora-Penshurst pipeline, but there is far more to the event than that. I have asked Nicole and Brooner a few questions about what to expect to ensure you are not left in the dark (figuratively, if not literally!):

Tristan White: Why did you choose to set the course in the area?

Nicole Mealing: We wanted to set a course that was public transport accessible on a Saturday night but with opportunities for some off-track navigation without thick scrub. (Sadly, the circumstances have ebbed our desire to encourage participants to catch public transport…)

Nicole and Brooner at last year’s World Champs in Spain

TW: How are you making it accessible to night rogaining novices?

NM: We've picked an area where participants will always be near a track or road and we've created a suggested novice course where navigation slowly increases in difficulty. We hope they'll successfully find many controls in the dark, unlike me, whose first attempt at night rogaining took 4 hours to find my first control!

TW: What have you enjoyed most about the course setting experience?

NM: Laughing wickedly! We'd never explored the vast number of bush trails around Loftus, so this was a great opportunity to do so. We also found new swimming holes along the way… though don’t expect they will be appreciated as much on a night in August!

TW: What have you enjoyed least about the course setting experience?

NM: Getting covered in briars. But don't worry, we now know where they are to make sure you won't be going through them, or at least if your navigation isn’t too haywire...

TW: What will make this event unique?

NM: Sadly, our other plans for unique elements have been foiled by Covid restrictions. But we hope that as the first formal rogaine following Covid lockdown, and clambering under or over the Woronora pipeline at night, it will be quite unique...

Although this was taken on the other side of the globe, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be scary creatures encountered at the Woronora Pipe Dream

NSW Rogaining Champs 24/8hr in “Bourke’s Backyard,” 5-6 Sept

Event page here:

To prove that NSWRA does not stand for Newcastle, Sydney & Wollongong Rogaining Association, Michael Watts is very excited to show off Gundabooka National Park, 70km south of Bourke to those who accept the challenge of a rogaine in outback Australia. Whilst it is the furthest a NSW event has been from Sydney, he assures us that it is well worth the trip, and he would know, having already made numerous reconnaissance trips himself. He answers a few questions about his experience below:

Tristan White: What gave you the idea to set an event out literally in the middle of nowhere anyway?

Michael Watts: In the late 90’s (before I became a rogainer) I stopped at the newly gazetted Gundabooka National Park, walking some of the Gunderbooka* Range and the central “amphitheatre”. 5 or 6 years ago, coming back from Darwin, I drove into Gundabooka again and was reminded of the unique topography of the Range and thought it would be a great place for a rogaine. I mentioned it to the committee, but we all thought it was too far. With 2020 coming up, I proposed the area again as a “one-off, unusual and iconic outback site” and the committee agreed. And here we are.

TW: What sort of things can one expect to see out there that one would not see around the Sydney basin?

MW: Gunderbooka Range, a U-shaped hilly ridgeline enclosing a central amphitheatre, is spectacular. The local Ngemba people refer to it as “stone country”. Mt Gunderbooka rises about 350m (to 495m ASL) above the surrounding plain and the whole range sits about 100 to 250m above the plain.

There is an extensive area of vibrant rock art at the Mulgowan (Yappa) site, near the hash house, and I’ve seen eagles, hawks, budgies, and many other parrots, robins and wrens that I can’t put a name to as well as grey and red kangaroos, emus and no snakes (yet)!

TW: Tell us about the trips you have made out to the area.

MW: In addition to earlier trips, I’ve made 3 dedicated trips out so far – staying five to seven days each time. Two to the Park to decide the course area and to start mapping, and one shorter one to liaise with authorities.

Michael at the cairn on Mt Gunderbooka

TW: What unique challenges have you had organising this event?

MW: Most of the groups I was dealing with - National Parks, the council, police, radio station, tourist office, etc. – never heard of rogaining, so there was a lot of explaining! Fortunately, we were able to put the NP people in touch with their eastern counterparts, which helped get permission to use a suitable hash house area.

Long distances and scarcity of equipment has been a challenge – such as getting toilets, marquees and water.

The most difficult problem has been COVID-19 and all the unknowns surrounding social isolation and lockdown, and for not knowing if the event could run at all. We are still working on a safety plan around control punches, mass starts, toilets, provision of hand washing, water drops. Unfortunately, it is almost certain there will be no catering at the event.

The NW face of Gunderbooka Range

TW: What else is there to do in the area aside from rogaining?

MW: There are a some very interesting towns in the area. Bourke, historically an inland port, includes the Darling wharves, an education and information centre, the Jandra, and historic buildings. Cobar’s mining museum is a real treat, Brewarrina has farming and aboriginal heritage, especially the fish traps which run for 1km along the river – though their age is unknown they are quite possibly the oldest known human construction. Narromine has gliding and Nyngan is a bustling farming town.

Make sure you check out Michael’s article about navigating on the dead flat. This event may be a good lesson for those rogainers who hate hills … to realise how much the absence of them makes navigation very difficult!

Participants must make their own way to the event and, owing to the Covid restrictions, there will be no food provided. In next newsletter, Michael and others will share some tips on efficient and economic self-catering in the middle of nowhere.

*Sic. Gundabooka is the spelling of the national park, where Gunderbooka is the spelling of the mountain range and county. Just to confuse you!

Get Into Gear No. 5 – “How Cool is Rogaining?” - Warm Clothing & Dealing with the Cold

I’m convinced that Sydneysiders are a bunch of cold-weather whingers. As soon as the temperature drops below 18°C, it’s inevitable that I’ll be hearing groans from others about how freezing it is outside as people walk exactly fifty metres between their air conditioned car and their air conditioned building in a warm jacket and scarf. If they have done any event in winter, most rogainers will have a different perspective on what real cold is to the average NSW resident.

With the next event a night rogaine in the depths of winter I again recruit mixed veteran guns Antoniya Bachvarova and Andrew Smith, who completed six 24+ hour rogaines last year, about what they wear and their experience in dealing with the cold weather in our next gear series article. Read it here.

Alex Allchin, Andrew Smith, Toni Bachvarova, Vivien de Remy de Courcelles after 2019 Navshield, where temps reached -5°C. Note smiles all round!

Rogaining Education! An interview with Salome Hussein

A rogaine looks a lot like a semester of university. After a long period of slogging away and fighting motivation the adrenaline kicks in and a rogainer will fight tooth and nail to collect whatever points they can before the deadline, which is inevitably reached in a panic with minutes to spare, if at all. Both cases also include all-nighters and dealing with highs and lows of team dynamics.

Despite what a great learning experience rogaining is for young (and old!) people, I was amazed at how few university students in NSW were into rogaining during my own days at uni between 2012 and 2016, but Salomé Hussein has given me renewed hope, who in recent months has hit up the University of Technology Sydney Outdoor Adventure Club and gotten many of them into rogaining in a big way, not just taking them to events, but organising both practical and theory training sessions for them. She takes this chance to share some of her experiences in the club and share her insights on the sport.

You can read the full article here.

Sam (front) with Marta Khomyn and Angelo Rossi at “Spring Balance” Metrogaine

Don’t forget about Volunteering .. we still need you.

As we emerge into the fresh air again, remember that we need volunteers to make rogaines. You’ll probably get an email from Graham, the Volunteer Coordinator, but in case you don’t, we specifically need one or more vetters for the NSW Champs at Gundabooka and some flag hangers and collectors for our ‘coming out’ event, Woronora Pipe Dreams, in August. Just go to the Volunteer page here and put your name down to help, or simply email the Volunteer Coordinator.

MapRunF courses from previous events here.

Find us on Facebook and Strava here.

Tristan White
on behalf of the NSW Rogaining Committee